Forest of Hope

It’s the name of the immersive art and sound installation opening on Friday 5 August at the Yarra-me Djila Theatrette at the Ivanhoe Library and Cultural Hub with large scale paintings by Anne Bennett, projections and sound recordings by Jutta Pryor and original music by bass artist Scott Dunbabin and flautist Megan Kenny. Given the somewhat depressing State of Environment report released by the federal government last week, it sounds like a welcome antidote and where there is action being taken, there is always hope.

Image: HeideMoMA

The 2022 Banyule Art Salon opens the same night from 6 – 8pm and is Banyule’s biggest community art exhibition with this one also dedicated to the great outdoors – forest bathing has kept most of us sane over the past few years and personally I feel very grateful to live in a municipality where park life is abundant.

I’ve long been fascinated by the moon, the stars and the evening sky and I’m not the only one. Night Paintings at Darebin Creek by Fran Lee opens on 26 August at Loft 275 also at the Ivanhoe Library and Cultural Hub while the Heidelberg Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Across the Stars‘ September concert and ‘Nightscapes‘ December concert will be held across the road at the Ivanhoe Girls Grammar School Performing Arts Centre.

In nearby Bulleen, Double Moon by Korean artist Jaedon Shin (pictured above) opened at Heide Musuem of Modern Art last month and runs until October while Tyama: a multisensory experience of nature has opened at the Melbourne Museum and looks quite spectacular and means ‘a deeper sense of knowing.’ Our First Nations people have a different relationship to Country and Bangarra Dance Theatre’s latest production SandSong: Stories from the Great Sandy Desert also looks just as visually amazing.

While there’s another month of winter, there are blossoms and wattle on the trees and if next Sunday is just as nice weather-wise, it will be a fun day out at the Eaglemont Village Heritage Day with bookings already open for the Red Rattler steam train rides and the Eaglemont Village Market also on that day – the Art Deco village is one of my very favourite places in Banyule to visit.


If the shoe fits

Well, I felt like the real Cinderella on Friday at Banyule’s Women in business lunch held at The Centre Ivanhoe with key speaker celebrity stylist and shoe business entrepreneur Lana Wilkinson. With my hired Alemais dress from GlamCorner, vintage fake fur jacket and leather boots and borrowed bag from my bestie Jules – it was a lovely excuse to dress up.

Picture: Lana Wilkinson

And what a fabulous event it was, even with COVID-19 lurking in the background. My fairy god-sister – local identity, personal trainer and podcaster Nikki Ellis – hosted a table of Banyule’s leading business women pictured left to right below: Amy O’Shannessy (Perform Physiotherapy + Pilates), Kate Heslop (State of Solace and Be Podiatry), Jodi Crocker (Baketico Heidelberg), Cinch Training rep Justine, Cinch Training nutritionist Stephanie Canning, me and Nikki (Cinch Training/Find Your Fierce with Nikki Ellis), Nicole Webb (Greensborough Remedial Massage & Myotherapy), Ilene Kairouz (Aqueous Designs) and Karyn Harte (Bees Knees Marketing & Design).

Our power table of 10 local women in business

This Women in Business event was particularly stylish from the beautiful plants by The Greenery Garden & Home and table flowers by Floral Impressions to the typeface used for signage and name cards. I think the Banyule Business team did an outstanding job including an event timed to perfection – starting at 11.30am and finishing exactly at 2pm (according to Nikki’s Apple watch!) and there was a quick turnaround with an evening event being held at the same venue. The food by Peter Rowland Catering was also excellent and I think they hold the bar in Melbourne along with other long-term-ers The Big Group. Locally, I have used Luckman Catering and would use them again for future events.

L- R: Banyule Mayor Elizabeth Nealy (at lectern) and CEO Alison Beckwith

It was a momentous event not only in that it finally happened after two years of lockdowns but also in that Banyule Council has both a female Mayor in Elizabeth Nealy as well as a female CEO in Alison Beckwith (who did a great job as MC having a fireside chat with Lana Wilkinson) so women in business all round. A big thank you too from me to the women behind the scenes in Dani Ahimastos and Jacinta Simms at Banyule Business.

L-R: Alison Beckwith and Lana Wilkinson in conversation

Lana herself was very impressive – articulate, authentic and very down-to-earth highlighting not just the glamorous side of her business (she’s worked with the original stylist turned entrepreneur – Rachel Zoe -and clientele includes Megan Gale, Rebecca Judd, Whitney Port, Millie Macintosh, Rachel Zoe, Ruby Rose, Zoe Foster Blake, Anna Heinrich, Elyse Knowles, Rachael Finch and Natalie Bassingthwaighte) but also the lowlights and stresses with finances, managing staff and a young family coupled with opening a business just before the pandemic hit. What stood out to me was her work ethic inherited from her drycleaning business father – most highly successful people have this in common but it’s always a balancing act. I was glad to hear she prioritises self-care with training three times a week.

L – R: Me and Nikki Ellis

The event was the highlight of my week – with the surge in cases in Melbourne – my organisation has given employees the option of working from home over the next four to six weeks. I’ve now had my second booster and masked up on Friday so not only hoping to avoid getting COVID again – I’m also thinking of our strained healthcare workers who are both burnt out and understaffed. While it’s been very challenging as a knowledge worker – it pales in comparison to those at the frontline.

While I haven’t lost my glass slipper, it is back to reality this week but how wonderful it was to have lived the fairy tale life on Friday.

Get up! Stand up! Show up!

It has been another historic week in terms of local and international affairs with NAIDOC week here in Australia but lots of change overseas. I think the plates are still shifting and with the surge in COVID-19 infections, I have booked my second booster and fourth vaccination for COVID. After going down hard in March, I will do everything I can not to get it again.

Above: Gimlet at Cavendish House interior

Culture-wise, it was wonderful to see Melbourne restaurant Gimlet in the top 100 longlist for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022 – the only Aussie contender to make it. I feel grateful to have dined there shortly after it first opened. If you’re venturing out to the eastern suburbs, I also drove past authentic looking Italian wine bar Mister Sandrino on Riversdale Road in Hawthorn and my aunty who is a local has given it kudos as a dining destination.

Not every restaurant or person is lucky enough to have fared so well over this time – I was sad to hear the Morrocan Soup Bar in Fitzroy is closing its doors after 24 years although it will still trade for takeaway and catering. With the rising cost of living, Foodbank Victoria is also providing food for 50,000 people every day and it is a difficult time for people in more vulnerable situations.

I missed the Finders Keepers market at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton and the So Frenchy So Chic Bastille Day discotheque at the Melbourne Meat Market also looked like a lot of fun but there are lots of activities happening around the place including the Winter Night Market every Wednesday night at the Queen Victoria Market and the Scandinavian Film Festival at Palace Cinemas.

I’m in the middle of doing some minor renovations at home and have had a setback after discovering borer (luckily not termite) in our bedroom flooring delaying the wardrobe installation – I’m hoping there’s not a knock on effect as we’ve also had to wait months to have carpets laid in the bedrooms. The unplanned events you don’t budget for…renovating or building is also a lesson in patience and acceptance. I’ll be ‘camping’ in my lounge room for the next couple of weeks.

It’s the dead of winter and I’ve found myself eating a lot of baked goods so it’s just as well I’m back at yoga this week and went for a long run (for me) today. Mr Rosanna and I have been enjoying the delights of Bread Wise bakery in Ivanhoe including its cinnamon donuts and substantial roasted pork bahn mi. This weekend I tried their date and orange scones which were delicious and I’ll be back to sample their passionfruit icing topped vanilla slice! A competitor, An Bahn Mi, has just opened across the other side of the road so no doubt I’ll be giving them a go as well.

We visited Rita, Michael and Fidel for a yummy brunch at Picket Fence cafe in Ivanhoe East as well over the weekend given we know them from our days in Rosanna when they owned the Greville Road Fish and Chip Shop. I also drove Mr R and his friends to Vinoshis for drinks at East Ivanhoe Village a few weeks ago which looks lovely but be warned it closes early at 9pm if you go. Apparently there is a new bakery going in at East Ivanhoe to replace Brumby’s – which is also going to offer ramen – so that will be an interesting combination if it happens! Only in Melbourne…

Good luck for the start of Term 3 this week if you have school-aged kids.


It’s cold in Melbourne and about to get even cooler over the next fortnight – traditionally the two coldest weeks of the year. I went running at dusk last Sunday in the rain and wished I had windscreen wipers for my eyes – I did manage not to slip in the mud. It is dark but there are lots of activities taking place celebrating the light.

Lightscape is on at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne until 7 August saluting light, nature and wonder, while the Docklands Firelight Festival finishes tonight. You can also head indoors to enjoy Light: Works from Tate’s Collection at ACMI in the city or Bruce Munro: From Sunrise Rd at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen, the latter of who brought the spectacular Field of Light Uluru light installation to the Northern Territory in 2016. Light festivals are apparently now a thing if you’ve read this article in Traveller.

The Leaps and Bounds Music Festival is currently on and it’s exciting too to hear about new Melbourne music festival Always Live, which is modelling itself on the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. If you like the great indoors, Open House Melbourne starts at the end of this month and I was glad to hear the Nicholas Building is close to being sold under a unique social enterprise model that will allow its creative community to stay. Interesting too that a Robin Boyd house in Warrandyte was also ‘whisked off the market’ last month by one lucky buyer.

It’s been busy at work with end of financial year, with my team launching a re-vamped website (and all the work leading up to it) and doing a bit of professional development. I watched a fascinating presentation on culture, brand and COVID-19 by a speaker from Kantar Public and while perhaps not unexpected, the themes of safety, belonging and self-esteem, have been prevalent and people’s behavioural responses to them over this time.

Also interesting has been census data showing how diverse we have become as a nation, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney. It was also great to see Melbourne re-joining the top 10 most liveable cities list – jointly tying with Japanese city Osaka and being crowned Australia’s most liveable city. While we continue to live with COVID and the numbers are still very high, I’m very grateful to be living with relative freedom this third winter of the pandemic. If anything, I think it’s taught us not to take the simple things for granted ever again.